Despite the empirical literature demonstrating the efficacy of antidepressant medications for treatment of depression disorder, these medications’ effect on patients’ overall well-being and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) remains controversial. This study investigates the effect of antidepressant medication use on patient-reported HRQoL for patients who have depression.
A comparative cohort, secondary database analysis was conducted using data from the United States’ Medical Expenditures Panel Survey for patients who had depression. HRQoL was measured using the SF-12 and reported as physical and mental component summaries (PCS and MCS). A cohort of patients that used antidepressant medications were compared to a cohort of patients that did not. Univariate and multivariate difference-in-differences (D-I-D) analyses were used to assess the significance of the mean difference of change on the PCS and MCS from baseline to follow-up.
On average, 17.5 million adults were diagnosed with depression disorder each year during the period 2005–2016. The majority were female (67.9%), a larger proportion of whom received antidepressant medications (60.5% vs. 51.5% of males). Although use of antidepressants was associated with some improvement on the MCS, D-I-D univariate analysis revealed no significant difference between the two cohorts in PCS (–0.35 vs. –0.34, p = 0.9595) or MCS (1.28 vs. 1.13, p = 0.6405). The multivariate D-I-D analyses ensured the robustness of these results.
The real-world effect of using antidepressant medications does not continue to improve patients’ HRQoL over time. Future studies should not only focus on the short-term effect of pharmacotherapy, it should rather investigate the long-term impact of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on these patients’ HRQoL.